Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean(RBIM) #EurafricaTerritory
The place where everything was born
The Eurafrica Trail takes place in the environment of the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean. It is a unique territory for its landscape and scenery. In fact, it is the only Reserve of the 631 recognized by UNESCO in the world, composed of protected environments of two continents. Parks and sites of enormous beauty and environmental value, such as Los Alcornocales, Estrecho, Grazalema or Sierra de las Nieves in Spanish territory, and Jbel Musa, Talassemtane or Bou Hachem in Moroccan territory.
On both sides of the Strait (natural border of the Territory) we find many common features in the nature of the protected natural areas that make up the Reserve, as is the case of the sister pine forests of the Talassemtane N.P., Sierra de las Nieves or Sierra de Grazalema, to which we can add other “twinnings” of species such as the cork oak, holm oak and various species of scrub on both sides. As a whole, both banks share 75% of their flora. With regard to the fauna present in the whole of the RBIM, we find cases such as the wild boar and the otter, as well as numerous examples of birds that live and pass through our Territory, such as the Egyptian vulture or the golden eagle.
This perfect mixture of union and diversity, motivates us to explore and tell the Territory of Eurafrica from multiple points of view. It is our intention, from the beginning of the project, to propose variants in our participation modalities and route designs so that both the organization and the institutions, as well as the participants, can live in fullness the experiences and places that we can enjoy, without leaving the Territory.
Eurafrica has, therefore, a fundamental objective in making the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean known, generating, through our test, opportunities of exchange and illusions among its inhabitants, improving the way in which they relate to their natural environment, the so called Eurafrica Territory.
Here we leave you with some of the protected areas and places that we will visit during this edition:
NATURAL PARK LOS ALCORNOCALES: ALGECIRAS, GAUCÍN STATION - EL COLMENAR, LOS BARRIOS AND JIMENA DE LA FRONTERA.
The Natural Park of Los Alcornocales extends over 170,000 hectares of land, halfway between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga and is made up of the largest cork oak forest in the world.
It constitutes one of the most important protected areas in Andalusia, being the third park in extension of this land, reaching the Strait of Gibraltar.
Rhododendrons, ferns and laurels grow under the shade of the cork trees. In its southern part are the canutos, river valleys in which plant species from the Tertiary period survive.
In short, we are talking about what is known as “the last Mediterranean forest”.
Algeciras is located in a privileged enclave, halfway between the Alcornocales Natural Park and the Strait of Gibraltar Natural Park, both of which have been influenced by one of the most special and legendary places on earth, the Strait of Gibraltar.
We are talking about an area that has the largest cork oak forest on the planet and in which, every year, hundreds of thousands of European birds converge.
Places like the Honey River, in the Alcornocales Park or the Punta Carnero Lighthouse, one of the most privileged viewpoints of the Strait, are part of the natural heritage of Algeciras.
The municipality of Cortes de la Frontera, is located in a privileged place, on horseback, between the Natural Park of Los Alcornocales, Sierra de Grazalema and the region Valle del Guadiaro (Rio del Oro).
Two of its towns, Cortes de la Frontera and the Gaucín Station, popularly known as El Colmenar, are particularly noteworthy.
The limestone massifs of Grazalema, in the north, and the dense masses of alconorques, in the south, are the protagonists of the landscape that surrounds these two small towns in Malaga, home to mountain people, who still live in communion with the nature around them and know how to take advantage of its resources, are presented as ideal places to connect with nature.
Cork makers, mushroom makers, woodworkers, muleteers, and lovers of good food gather in this small community in the deep interior of the province of Málaga.
Walks, such as the ascent to the Puerto de Libar, a karstic paradise with spectacular views of the plains of the same name, or the one to the Natural Monument Cañón de las Buitreras, a place of great beauty where a large colony of griffon vultures nest and usually adorn the skies of these valleys every half day, are a must.
Situated on the border between the ancient Nazarí Kingdom of Granada and the Kingdom of Castile, Jimena stands on the banks of the crystal-clear Hozgarganta and Guadiaro rivers, always crowned by the powerful castle of Islamic origin that has stood there since the 8th century.
Its location, surrounded by lush forests, is ideal for practicing many activities in nature. Walks such as those in Hozgarganta, next to the old Royal Artillery Factory built in the time of Carlos III or those that can lead us to discover prehistoric sites such as “Laja Alta”, are just some of the things that this small whitewashed village in the heart of the province of Cadiz has to offer.
Its rich gastronomy, led by seasonal mushrooms and game, is another attraction to visit this corner of the southern geography.
Los Barrios, located in the southernmost part of the Campo de Gibraltar, is one of the thirteen municipalities that make up the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, occupying seventy percent of its area.
Surrounded by nature and dreamy landscapes, La Villa invites tourists to take part in rural routes of various difficulties and duration through its large forests that present a great biodiversity in terms of fauna and flora.
Places like the Gargantas del Prior or El Capitan offer the visitor a direct immersion in almost paradisiacal landscapes, judging by their greenery and freshness, which do justice to the appellation of “Mediterranean forest” that is usually associated with the Alcornocales Natural Park.
The “Monte La Torre” estate, another of the places to visit, belongs to the Larios family, where the bilingual Granja Escuela of the same name is housed. It contains a medieval-style watchtower hidden in a beautiful cork oak forest that serves as a privileged vantage point over the whole of the Campo de Gibraltar.
SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA NATURAL PARK: BENAOJÁN
Declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco, it covers an area of 53,411 hectares and is identified as one of the most ecologically valuable areas in the south of the peninsula and therefore of great relevance to the rest of the territory.
It has the highest rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula, with an annual average of over 2,000 litres per square metre, and is the most important western massif in the Sub-Baetic Mountains.
Its intense rainfall and the limestone nature of the terrain have created a karstic landscape rich in steep cliffs, caves and sinuous gorges. Its Sierra del Pinar has an important forest of Spanish firs, considered a vegetal relic from the Tertiary period.
This mountainous municipality, located on the border of the Sierra de Grazalema and the Guadiaro Valley, is a paradise of limestone and water, sublimated in one of its most unique places, the Cueva del Gato, which with its 10 kilometers in length, is one of the most complex in Andalusia.
Another singular enclave, a must, is the Cueva de la Pileta, a reference point in Andalusian cave art. Its paintings are almost 150,000 years old and are surprising because of their state of conservation and unique location.
The Llanos de Libar are one of the best examples of karstic polje in the south of the peninsula and one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Andalusia.
UPPER ROCK NATURE RESERVE: GIBRALTAR
Considered by visitors to be one of Gibraltar’s greatest attractions, the Upper Rock Nature Reserve has a significant amount of endemic flora and animal species such as the Moorish Partridge and Barbary Macaque.
The Gibraltar Nature Reserve is also famous for its unique trails, which wind through the entire length of the reserve. These combine the natural beauty and breathtaking views of the reserve with some historical sites that are not usually included in the more typical tours. The main trails include: Mediterranean Steps, Inglis Way, Royal Anglian Way and Douglas Path. Four networks of trails have been developed called: “Nature Lover” for nature lovers; “History Buff”, a review of the history of Gibraltar; “Thrill Seeker” for the more daring visitors; and “Monkey Trail” where the friendly monkeys are the protagonists. Each trail has its own logo to guide users. As part of the renewed trail network, a new Gibraltar Nature Reserve application (GNR App) has been developed, available for iOS and Android.
The Mountain of Tarik or Mount Calpe are some of the legendary names by which Gibraltar is known. “The Rock”, represents one of the two columns of the myth of Hercules, the union between the two shores of the Eurafrican Territory.
Beyond the myths, Gibraltar is the melting pot of cultures present in the Strait, as well as a range of scenic and cultural attractions that we are sure will not leave you indifferent.
A guided tour of the Gorham Cave Complex (UNESCO), a walk through the dizzying Mediterranean Steps or an introduction to history through the many tunnels built during the Second World War are some of the “must” places to visit when you come to Gibraltar.
As you can imagine, its strategic location, at one end of the Bay of Algeciras, facing the Mediterranean Sea, makes it a privileged viewpoint of the whole Strait. O,Hara,s Battery, the recent “Windsor Bridge” and the “Skywalk”, are just some examples of the places, from where the visitor can enjoy some of the best views that “The Rock” offers.
PROVINCE OF MDIQ-FNIDEQ: MEDITERRANEAN COAST, JBL MUSSA NATURAL MONUMENT AND LEILA ISLAND
The north of Morocco hides some of the country’s least known Natural Protected Areas, such the mediterranean coast with places of outstanding beauty like the Jbl Musa, which is full of great ecological and ethnographic value.
The Jbl Musa and its surroundings are located in the middle of the migratory corridor of birds, one of the most important on the planet and a privileged place where people who love birds, from all corners of the world, meet every year to contemplate this spectacle offered by the Strait.
Here, in the Jbl Musa, a beautiful limestone ridge begins that crosses a good part of the province to Tetuan, giving us karstic poljes like those of Fas el Hamr in the Hauz mountain range.
The more than forty kilometres of fine sand beach, which connect Fndiq with the Martil River on the Mediterranean coast, is another of the natural attractions that invite you to get to know this authentic province.
This small town is one of the best kept treasures of northern Morocco. Its crystalline waters and rugged mountains are a paradise for lovers of the underwater world and the mountains.
The Jbl (mountain in Arabic) Mousa, is a limestone colossus 900 meters high that stands on the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Its scenic value, with Gibraltar and the Spanish coast in the background, is enormous, as much as the harshness of its roads, only frequented by a few goats that give good account of the enormous lentiscus that survive on its slopes and the colony of Barbary macaques that are the owners and royal lords of this mountain.
The culture of the local water, which is led by a large number of springs that spring up every now and then from the limestone bowels of these mountains and which have provided water to Ceuta since the time of the Spanish Protectorate, is evident when walking through its streets.
The famous islet of Perejil, Isla Leila for the locals, emerges next to the cut out coast, so close, that it looks almost like a small appendage of it. In its origins, Perejil Island was called Calypso Island, as legend has it that Ulysses remained there, a prisoner of this nymph’s charms, as told by Homer in the Odyssey.
M´Diq is a beautiful Moroccan fishing village, located in the first kilometers of the Mediterranean coast of the North African country.
It is an eminently tourist city. Its well-kept and urbanised beaches extend from Restinga to the north and to Cabo Negro to the south, passing through the famous Marina Smir and Kabila developments, both with marinas. This coast, touristically called Tamuda Bay, is one of the most important holiday centres in the country. The presence of a royal residence near the city, much visited by the king, increases the attractiveness and number of visitors to this coast. The most important activities of the city are beach tourism and fishing. Its fishing port houses a large fleet that operates in the Mediterranean.
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